The Americans with Disabilities Act was the result of a hard-fought battle against not only years of stereotyping, but real and terrible discrimination against those with either mental or physical disabilities. The legislation was enacted to help protect these individuals from discrimination based on a disability such as in the workplace.
What about in child custody disputes? Does the broad standard of “best interests of the child” actually leave room for discrimination against a parent? According to a recent report published by the National Council on Disability, these rights are violated more often than we think.
One couple in Kansas City had their child taken away immediately after she was born. The reason cited was that they were blind, presumably interfering with their ability to care. In other instances adoptive parents were turned down because of a cerebral palsy diagnosis. One mother fought for custody and visitation rights for 18 months, but was eventually denied those requests because of her quadriplegia.
A parent who cannot physically lift their full-grown child may need some help, but does that mean that they cannot parent? There is a lot more to parenting from helping with homework, moral education and love and care. Child-welfare experts chimed in on the discussion, noting that the removal of child goes more against their “best interests” than the inability to push them on a swing or see the color of their hair.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Disabled Parents Often Lose Custody Of Children, Report Finds,” David Crary, Nov. 26, 2012